Wednesday, May 07, 2008

why critics are not always right

Critics come in many varieties.

In blogocombat, one must ascertain what type of critic is on the offensive against you: a person who wishes to help you, and is not jealous ... versus a troll who just enjoys inflicting hurtful comments on other people.

Some critics offer you helpful hints on how to improve, or how to fulfill their own personal vision of what you ought to be, or how to please their individual tastes. Others attack you out of jealousy and a feeling of inadequacy. They hate how popular and successful you are. Then there are sadistic misanthropes who just love to argue, injure, demoralize, and mock anyone and everyone.

Some critics are smart. Some are stupid. Some are insightful and profound. Some are purely emotional. Some critics are creative colleagues. Some critics are mediocre wankers.

So why would a blogger state that all critics are always right?

Why would you assume that if someone dislikes your work, you must change for them?

Why would you assume that if someone is angry at you, that you caused this anger, and you must appease the critic, make them happy again?

Why assume that every critic has noble intentions and valid perceptions of you? This is a very masochistic and subservient point of view, one that is inappropriate in business, art, and social interactions.

"Let Me Save You $40, Here's How to Be Happy"


5. Your Critics Are Always Right

If someone seriously says that you are some way — if they tell you you’re embarrassing to be around, or if they compare you to someone you hate, or if they say you’re not a very nice person, or whatever — then you are that way.

You may not be that way in the core of your being, and you may not want to be that way, and it may be a surprise that you have come off that way, but their perception of you is valid, and you need to accept and deal with that.

What did you do that made them think that was true? Where are they coming from with their experience of you that made it seem accurate? Ask yourself (and them) these questions, and see if you can take it as an opportunity for self-improvement.

Don’t do what most people do, which is to take it as an attack that needs to be responded to with anger and yelling. Then you’re just taking an opportunity to make yourself better and replacing it with an opportunity to hurt a your relationship with them.

Now, of course, you need to be sure they’re serious: something said in the middle of a fight or said flippantly doesn’t really qualify. So you need to be sure they’re serious. But if your critic is serious, then your critic is right.


"If the critic is serious, the critic is right"...? Seriousness is sometimes envy in disguise, and even if it was totally benevolent, a critique is not "right" simply because the critic is serious, sincere, or well-intentioned.

Many hateful people try to coat their venom and vindictive in a scholarly tone, for a fake "authoritarian" pomposity that tries to belittle or diminish what you're doing. Your attempts and efforts make them uncomfortable, because they are reminders of how your so-called critic has failed, or has been to afraid to experiment.

"...their perception of you is valid, and you need to accept and deal with that." ? Says who? What makes someone's perception of another person valid? Don't people have misguided perceptions? Don't we experience errors in perception all the time? What makes a jealous person's opinions, feelings, and perceptions "valid"?

This is the mantra of the battered wife: "He beats me, but I deserve it. I'm a bad person, and I need to be punished and humiliated. It's all my fault. I'm always wrong, and he's always right. I'm lucky to have him. Nobody else will ever want me."

Let's say you're a really nice person who loves to help others. But one person tried to bully you into watching a film he just made, and you have prior commitments. So that person, acting as a self-appointed critic, calls you a "selfish jerk".

Is that critique "valid"?

No, not at all. He's the selfish, domineering manipulator, and you're just a person who has to do something other than what he wants you to do.

What if you're writing poetry, and have a blog devoted to your poems, with lots of nice comments from your fans. A person you know also writes poetry, but is too insecure and sensitive to post her poems on the internet, for she fears "destructive" (honest) critique. Now, what if she criticizes your poems and says you should not post them on your blog, your poems are so horrible.

She says, in her opinion, that your poems are bad, your fans are few and deluded, and it's your vain egotism that is driving you to publish a poetry blog. It's upsetting her, and you must quit.

Would that be a "valid" critique?

Don't we have to do more than just accept any input from any source, as valid feedback?

I'm not saying that only positive feedback is valid. I'm just saying that all critique is not of equal quality, nor is critique a one-dimensional event with no context or history.

Consider the source, as they say. Contemplate why someone is trashing you. Could it be more than cold, scientific, unbiased, impersonal objectivity?

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